Offense Popping Without Pop, Nasty Pitches, and Other Bullets

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Offense Popping Without Pop, Nasty Pitches, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Kris Bryant springI am headed to Chicago today in advance of tomorrow’s home opener. If you’re going to be around during the day, I think I’m going to cozy up at Bernie’s, across Clark Street from Wrigley Field, for the afternoon before the game. Come say hey and get ready for the game!

And then for the game, itself, I’ll be somewhere in the right field bleachers, tending over toward the right field video board if I can find some space. Say hey, grab a seat, watch the game, etc. It’s gonna be cold, but it’s gonna be fun!

  • The Cubs have just five home runs through their five games, putting them a lowly 18th in baseball … but I say that fully tongue-in-cheek because (1) we know they have plenty of power, so it’s not a concern, and (2) their 7.0 runs per game are tied for the best in baseball with the Yankees and Red Sox. In other words, the Cubs have created a ton of offense so far, even without relying on the long ball. And when those start coming? Watch out.
  • Also, Kris Bryant’s already had about five balls that came up two feet short of a homer – which reminds me of his early games last year, too – so there’s plenty of pop coming.
  • Kyle Hendricks looked great last night, working everything down in the zone, both sides of the plate, mixing his wide array of pitches, and keeping Diamondbacks hitters off-balance despite topping out at 90mph, and mostly working at 86/87 mph. What is particularly killer is that he can throw a cut fastball that looks just like his sinker until it breaks the other direction, and he can do the same thing with his changeup. Enjoy the highlights from Hendricks’ performance if you weren’t able to watch the game.
  • Speaking of enjoyable pitches, check out what Hector Rondon busted out last night:

  • That was only Rondon’s 23rd changeup since 2014, so it’s definitely something he saves for special occasions. Righty to righty changeups can be a dangerous game – to say nothing of when that righty is Paul freaking Goldschmidt – but when you’re throwing 98mph and you bust out a 91mph changeup with hard, diving movement, it’s a lot less dangerous. Look familiar, by the way? It reminds me of the one Jake Arrieta used to strike out Mike Trout, though with a lot less movement, because Arrieta.
  • Speaking of Arrieta: hooray for Jake Arrieta Day!
  • Cubs pitching prospect Dillon Maples was one of the guys getting a lot of buzz in the spring, in part because him breaking back out would be a really pleasant surprise (it’s been a long road since Maples was given a huge bonus out of high school back in 2011), and in part because he was pairing a mid-90s fastball with a nasty breaking pitch. He had the look of a late-inning reliever who could move quickly if he’d finally put the command together. But he had one short outing at Myrtle Beach this week, and now he’s been put on the DL. Not sure of the injury at this point, but it’s a bummer. (For more Cubs minor league action, make sure you’re checking out Luke’s Minor League Daily each morning!)
  • It tentatively sounds like the Cubs do intend to give Jorge Soler a chance to really establish himself in left field in the wake of Kyle Schwarber’s injury, and you can read more about it here at CSN. Soler was 0-4 with two ugly-looking strikeouts, though one of his “0”s was a rocket smash to third that was scored an error, but really should have been a hit. The strikeouts, though, did offer and opportunity to remind folks of one of the biggest things Soler needs to work on – pitch recognition:

  • You should be advised not to be too hard on Soler on this front, though, because the only way to become better at recognizing big league pitches is to see a lot of them. And Soler hasn’t had that opportunity yet in his career.
  • Luis wrote about his extension yesterday, and Brandon Belt popped back up on my radar later in the day because this Vine is cracking me up:

  • Clayton Kershaw is pretty silly good. Madison Bumgarner took him deep in that game, though, so I guess he’s not that good.
  • Over at Baseball is Fun, I’m trying to restrain myself in the face of Pablo Sandoval’s belt literally breaking on a swing.
  • This Cubs checkers set is 45% off at Amazon and under $10. We have it. The Little Girl and I played the other day, and she was pretty upset when I beat her. She’s five now, and I feel like that’s old enough that, as she’s learning a thinking game like checkers, I don’t want to let her win too often (if ever). I want her to keep working on her thinking and also learning how to deal with losing. I’m pretty sure that’s the right approach. I probably didn’t need to jump up, flip the board, and wag a finger in her face Dikembe Mutombo-style, though. Also: I should probably show more respect for the game of checkers.


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.